\ ˈraŋk How to pronounce rank (audio) \

Definition of rank

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : relative standing or position
b : a degree or position of dignity, eminence, or excellence : distinction soon took rank as a leading attorney— J. D. Hicks
c : high social position the privileges of rank
d : a grade of official standing in a hierarchy
2 : an aggregate of individuals classed together usually used in plural
3a : row, series
b : a row of people
c(1) : a line of soldiers ranged side by side in close order
(2) ranks plural : armed forces
(3) ranks plural : the body of enlisted personnel
d : any of the rows of squares that extend across a chessboard perpendicular to the files
e British : stand sense 6
4 : an orderly arrangement : formation
5 : the order according to some statistical characteristic (such as the score on a test)
6 : any of a series of classes of coal based on increasing alteration of the parent vegetable matter, increasing carbon content, and increasing fuel value
7 : the number of linearly independent rows or columns in a matrix


ranked; ranking; ranks

Definition of rank (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to determine the relative position of : rate a highly ranked prospect
2 : to arrange in lines or in a regular formation
3 : to take precedence of

intransitive verb

1 : to take or have a position in relation to others ranks first in her class
2 : to form or move in ranks

Definition of rank (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : offensive in odor or flavor especially : rancid
2a : shockingly conspicuous must lecture him on his rank disloyalty— David Walden
b : outright used as an intensiverank beginners
3 : luxuriantly or excessively vigorous in growth
4 : offensively gross or coarse : foul
6 : high in amount or degree : fraught
7 archaic : lustful, ruttish
8 obsolete : grown too large

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Other Words from rank


rankly adverb
rankness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for rank

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for rank


malodorous, stinking, fetid, noisome, putrid, rank, fusty, musty mean bad-smelling. malodorous may range from the unpleasant to the strongly offensive. malodorous fertilizers stinking and fetid suggest the foul or disgusting. prisoners were held in stinking cells the fetid odor of skunk cabbage noisome adds a suggestion of being harmful or unwholesome as well as offensive. a stagnant, noisome sewer putrid implies particularly the sickening odor of decaying organic matter. the putrid smell of rotting fish rank suggests a strong unpleasant smell. rank cigar smoke fusty and musty suggest lack of fresh air and sunlight, fusty also implying prolonged uncleanliness, musty stressing the effects of dampness, mildew, or age. a fusty attic the musty odor of a damp cellar

flagrant, glaring, gross, rank mean conspicuously bad or objectionable. flagrant applies usually to offenses or errors so bad that they can neither escape notice nor be condoned. flagrant abuse of the office of president glaring implies painful or damaging obtrusiveness of something that is conspicuously wrong, faulty, or improper. glaring errors gross implies the exceeding of reasonable or excusable limits. gross carelessness rank applies to what is openly and extremely objectionable and utterly condemned. rank heresy

Examples of rank in a Sentence

Noun people of high rank and profession She's not concerned about rank or wealth. officers with the rank of captain He rose to the rank of partner in the law firm. He longed to join the upper social ranks. military ranks such as private, corporal, and sergeant He moved up through the ranks to become vice president of the company. The organization's ranks have doubled in the past two years. The flu swept through the ranks, infecting almost every soldier. Several men were selected from the ranks. Verb A magazine recently ranked the school as one of the best in the country. The city currently ranks as the world's largest. Students who rank in the top third of their class have a better chance of being accepted to the college of their choice. Adjective You can't expect a rank beginner like her to know all the rules of the game. covered with trumpet vines so rank you couldn't see the trellis beneath them
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The following day in Kyiv, some of the same accusations issued from the ranks of Boyko’s party. Simon Shuster / Kyiv, Time, "Trump's Call For Investigations Finds New Support Among Russian Allies in Ukraine," 19 Nov. 2019 Minnesota and Baylor, who fell from the ranks of the undefeated, slid to No. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, "Georgia up to No. 4, while Minnesota and Baylor fall out of top 10 in Amway Coaches Poll," 17 Nov. 2019 In Chicago, Beck will be a newcomer running a department where the rank-and-file has had rocky relationships with outsiders. Washington Post, "Former Los Angeles police chief named interim in Chicago," 8 Nov. 2019 Jürgen Klopp also has Tony Gallagher in the academy ranks, the 20-year-old Glaswegian who was signed from Falkirk in 2018, has yet to make his first-team debut. SI.com, "Aaron Hickey: The Contenders to Sign the Hearts Wonderkid & Who He Might Join," 3 Nov. 2019 There’s a very good chance Baylor falls from the ranks of the unbeatens at TCU on Saturday. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Where is Ohio State football on Nathan Baird’s Associated Press Top 25 ballot?," 3 Nov. 2019 Burnett, who enjoyed a solid career at Park Vista High School and then played at Georgia Southern, has since followed her mother Donna in the coaching ranks at both Park Vista High School and Woodlands. Gary Curreri, sun-sentinel.com, "Woodlands Middle Mustangs win county softball championship," 1 Nov. 2019 The first was the crippling divisions in the ranks of the opposition parties. James Kirby, Quartz Africa, "The story behind Botswana’s closest-ever election and how its consequences will play out," 26 Oct. 2019 Across New England, where witch trials occurred somewhat regularly from 1638 until 1725, women vastly outnumbered men in the ranks of the accused and executed. Bridget Marshall, The Conversation, "Most witches are women, because witch hunts were all about persecuting the powerless," 23 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Buttigieg came into Wednesday night’s debate leading the crowded Democratic field in Iowa and ranking among the top five candidates in most national polls. NBC News, "Harris challenges Buttigieg on black support," 21 Nov. 2019 The site's traffic ranked number 69,757 in the U.S. over the past 90 days, according to Amazon.com Inc.'s Alexa. Ben Morse, CNN, "Derek Jeter unveils 'next chapter' of Players' Tribune with new 'partnership'," 21 Nov. 2019 Geno Auriemma, the UConn women’s basketball coach, speaking of the team’s No. 2 ranked 2020 recruiting class as all five members officially sign letters of intent. courant.com, "Nov. 21, 2019: High grades for LGBTQ support," 21 Nov. 2019 Three key factors combine to mitigate against a crash in what is regularly ranked as the world’s least affordable housing market: low interest rates, inadequate supply, and high levels of equity. Washington Post, "Hong Kong Home Prices Look Immune to Protests," 21 Nov. 2019 That's a killer schedule for a program whose current recruiting class — which has lost more than half its commitments — ranks No. 116 in the nation. Wally Hall, Arkansas Online, "WALLY HALL: Meeting with Memphis coach reported, but UA has been used for leverage before," 21 Nov. 2019 The Crimson Tide's lone ranked opponent to come is No. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "Where Alabama stands in playoff rankings," 20 Nov. 2019 State visits with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia have both ranked among Mr. Trump’s most visible diplomatic events over the past year. New York Times, "U.S.-India Defense Ties Grow Closer as Shared Concerns in Asia Loom," 20 Nov. 2019 Of the top 20 high school prospects in Michigan this year, only one — Dallas Fincher, an offensive lineman from East Kentwood in Grand Rapids — has committed to MSU, and Fincher is ranked 17th. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State's Mark Dantonio deserves one more chance to rewrite his ending," 20 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The department did not rank intersections by crashes for 2014 and 2015. Jennifer Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Dempster-Potter had highest number of reported crashes last year: Park Ridge police," 19 June 2018 And while Latvian elections don’t exactly rank high on the list of an American president’s priorities, the White House could have guessed what the Russians were gearing up to do — and should have sent them a forceful message to knock it off. Ian Bremmer, Time, "Yes, Obama Mishandled Russia's Election Hacking. But So Has Trump," 22 Feb. 2018 Key to that turnaround has been the Horns' ability to get opposing offenses off the field — their rank sixth nationally in third-down conversion defense. Nick Moyle, Houston Chronicle, "College football preview: Oklahoma State at Texas," 20 Oct. 2017 Any attempt to model tax liability in the new system will be rank speculation. David L. Bahnsen, National Review, "A Fairer Tax Code Is a More Efficient Tax Code," 17 Oct. 2017 The design style did not rank number one in any state. Jenna Milliner-waddell, ELLE Decor, "The Most-Searched Design Style In The United States Is So Unexpected," 10 Aug. 2017 The nexus inspires the most rank forms of situational ethics and rationalizations. The Hive, "Obama Cashes In—And the Media Piles On," 28 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rank.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rank


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


1573, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for rank


Middle English, from Anglo-French renc, reng, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German hring ring — more at ring


Middle English, from Old English ranc overbearing, strong; akin to Old Norse rakkr erect and perhaps to Old English riht right — more at right

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Time Traveler for rank

Time Traveler

The first known use of rank was in the 13th century

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Statistics for rank

Last Updated

23 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Rank.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rankness. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for rank


How to pronounce rank (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rank

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a position in a society, organization, group, etc.
: a high position in a society, organization, group, etc.
: the people or things that belong to a particular organization or group



English Language Learners Definition of rank (Entry 2 of 3)

: to place (someone or something) in a particular position among a group of people or things that are being judged according to quality, ability, size, etc.
: to have a particular position in a group of people or things that are being judged according to quality, ability, size, etc.
: to arrange (people or things) in a line or row

English Language Learners Definition of rank (Entry 3 of 3)

: having a strong, unpleasant smell
: very bad and obvious
: complete or total


\ ˈraŋk How to pronounce rank (audio) \

Kids Definition of rank

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : row entry 2 sense 1, series ranks of houses
2 : a line of soldiers standing side by side
3 ranks plural : the body of enlisted persons in an army
4 : position within a group Who is highest in rank in this office?
5 : high social position
6 : official grade or position the rank of major

Kids Definition of rank (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : strong and active in growth rank weeds
2 : outright entry 2 sense 1 rank dishonesty
3 : having an unpleasant smell The room was rank with smoke.


ranked; ranking

Kids Definition of rank (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : to take or have a certain position in a group He ranks near the top of the class.
2 : to arrange in a classification
3 : to arrange in lines or in a formation

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More from Merriam-Webster on rank

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rank

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rank

Spanish Central: Translation of rank

Nglish: Translation of rank for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rank for Arabic Speakers

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